Trans-cultural and trans-chronological

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Research page.

Trans-cultural and trans-chronological initiatives include:

Cultures of Consumption
Cultures of Consumption

Cultures of Consumption in Early Modern Europe: White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities


The network

Collectively, the three “Cultures of Consumption” PhD projects explore the transmission, interpretation and transformation of texts, ideas, beliefs and practices about food, drink, and consumption between geographical locations, cultural contexts and historical moments, and by diverse social groups. Each project is primarily based at one of the three White Rose universities, with students co-supervised by staff from two institutions and benefitting from the input of the wider network team.

Queries about the network should be directed to the network co-ordinator, Prof Cathy Shrank, Queries about individual projects should be directed to the project supervisors (listed below).

1 (Leeds): ‘Diet, health, and identity in early modern England and Italy: A comparative study of the application and understanding of Galenic principles’
Supervisors: Dr Alexandra Bamji (History, Leeds),; Prof Cathy Shrank (English, Sheffield),
Summary: Studies of early modern medicine tend to homogenise the reception of Galen. Scarcely no comparative work has been done on how climate, culture and religion affected the interpretation of classical views on diet and informed local and regional dietary practices; the assimilation of Galenic practices in domestic settings also needs work. This project draws on a broad range of material in manuscript and print to explore the varied appropriation of Galenic medicine and its impact on what people ate to restore and maintain health.

2 (Sheffield): ‘The invention of addiction in early modern England’
Supervisors: Prof Phil Withington (History, Sheffield),; Dr Tania Demetriou (English and Related Literature, York),
Summary: Scant attention has been paid to the emergence of an English language of ‘addiction’, which powerfully frames much modern medical and social discourse surrounding consumption. This research traces the translation of classical medical, philosophical and legal concepts surrounding consumption and moderation within the context of changing fashions in food and drink, and exploring the utilisation of these concepts in public and private discourses. Sources available include sermons, medical treatises, civil and ecclesiastical court records, literary texts.

3 (York): ‘Cultural encounters from the ambassador’s court to the English kitchen: Anglo-Iberian networks and the exchange of medical and culinary knowledge’
Supervisors, Dr Helen Smith (English and Related Literature, York),; Dr Iona McCleery (History, Leeds),
Summary: This studentship examines the importation of Iberian foodstuffs and recipes into England. Owing to religious and political tensions characterising English-Iberian relations throughout this period, scholars have largely neglected the trading, familial and diplomatic networks that brought together Spanish, Portuguese and English cultures; equally, little work has been undertaken into patterns of consumption within the Iberian peninsula or the extent to which Iberian foodstuffs were recognised and marked as such in English contexts. The project draws on a wide variety of sources – from recipe books to travellers’ accounts and ambassadorial papers – that chart the translation of Iberian techniques and commodities into England.


The Franco-British Network for Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Research

The Franco-British Network for Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Research aims to bring into dialogue scholars researching any aspect of France and/or the British Isles between 1600 and 1800. The network, organised in both French and English, will widen awareness of the kinds of research projects taking place into these two nations and will stimulate important dialogues between researchers. A clearly comparative interest, while welcomed, is by no means necessary, merely an interest in contextualising and sharing research is required. If you are interested in joining the network, please email Anna Jenkin  (, please pass on to anyone who you think might be interested.

Visit the Network’s website here:

Connected Histories: British History Sources, 1600-1900

This integrated search engine brings together a range of digital resources related to early modern and nineteenth century Britain with a single federated search that allows sophisticated searching of names, places and dates, as well as the ability to save, connect and share resources within a personal workspace. New resources are regularly added (including, in recent updates, John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments, Witches in Early Modern England, and The Transcribed Papers of Jeremy Bentham.) This project is also a collaboration with Jane Winters at the Institute of Historical Research.

View the Connected Histories website.

Locating London’s Past

This website allows you to search a wide body of digital resources relating to early modern and eighteenth-century London, and to map the results on to a fully GIS compliant version of John Rocque’s 1746 map.

View the Locating London’s Past website.

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913

This website, which provides a fully transcribed edition of all the published trial accounts from the Old Bailey, has been the basis of numerous research projects (and media programmes) about crime, criminal justice, and London life, since it was first launched in 2003.

View The Proceedings of the Old Bailey website.

The History of Women Religious of Britain and Ireland (H-WRBI)

A network to encourage research and make available material to facilitate that research at all levels. The network is broad in scope and time period covering the history of religious women from medieval to modern times. Our SCEMS members include Dr Nicky Hallett.

The organisation includes both academics, archivists, students and others interested in this area of study.

View the H-WRBI network website.

Intoxicants and Early Modernity: England, 1580-1740

This research project explores the insight that the period between the introduction of tobacco in the 1570s and the ‘Gin Craze’ of the early eighteenth century was a formative phase in the production, traffic, consumption, and representation of intoxicants. By intoxicants – a less ideologically loaded term than ‘drugs’, and a more historical descriptor for non-medicinal commodities – we mean substances understood at the time to be ‘poisoning, or envenoming’ and ‘tuddling or making drunk’, and which today are recognized as having an often detrimental impact on the body’s physiological and mental processes, especially if consumed to excess.

Contemporaries were well aware that the prospect of genuine intoxication, as well as the more normative roles and significations of intoxicants, were integral features of what historians term ‘early modernity’: the changes and processes linking the medieval and modern worlds. Yet orthodox accounts of early modernity insist the opposite. Colonial groceries and the material cultures surrounding them are linked to narratives of modernity: of sobriety, civility, politeness, capitalism, and industriousness. In the meantime alcohol and tobacco, and especially the excessive consumption of the former, are taken to be ‘plebeian’, ‘traditional’, and sources of solace: as ‘pre-modern’, or even ‘anti-modern’, rather than central to early modern experience. As a result, the importance of intoxicants to early modernity is elided and the genealogy of modern practices obscured.

View the Intoxicants project website.

The Chatsworth Library Project

As Research Associate on ‘The Chatsworth Library Project’, Jack Rhoden’s role involves working with the printed book collections, surveying the material to gauge the scope for future research projects and communicating any findings to colleagues at the University of Sheffield. Jack’s activities are designed to enhance our knowledge of the collection, to inspire further academic projects and to enhance the relationship between the University and the Chatsworth House Trust.

The Devonshire Collection is one of the largest and most significant libraries in private hands. Collected over the past four hundred years by successive generations of the Cavendish family, the library has grown to contain over 30,000 printed books in addition to extensive archival holdings containing family correspondence, historical maps, pamphlets, tracts, and autograph writings from key figures, including the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes and renowned polymath Henry Cavendish. A great deal of the Collection was acquired by the 6th Duke of Devonshire; a keen collector of books he purchased and inherited entire libraries, which he added to his own in the early nineteenth century.

View the project blog.

The Comparative History of Political Engagement in Western and African Societies *

This project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, brought together an international network of historians, and an interdisciplinary group of scholars working in Sheffield, to reconsider the history of political engagement, comparing the experiences of people and civil associations in Botswana, Britain, France, South Africa, the United States and Zimbabwe.

View the project website.

* The network is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.